The drum of the dome, decorated figuratif, animal and plant motifs.
The headquarters of the catholicos of Caucasian Albania and the region itself played an important role in the cultural history of Armenia. Many religious and lay figures were born in the lands of Artsakh: the сatholicos Viro, the poet Davt'ak K'ert'ogh and the historians Movses Кaghankatvatsi, Vardan Areveltsi, Vanakan Vardapet, and Grigor Patmich. It was on the initiative of these intellectuals that Armenian universities were founded at the monasteries of Gandzasar, Dadivank', Khatravank` and Gtitch.
Uninterrupted cultural activity, aimed mainly at conserving and spreading the national identity, especially during the 17th and 18th centuries, led to the creation of a national conscience that fostered the est establishment of freedom movements and later helped the region attain full independence.
The monastic complex of Gandzasar is situated on the heights above and to the south-west of the village of Vank' in the Mardakert district of autonomous region of Gharabagh. The monastery lies in the western part of the Khatchen Valley, which it completely dominates. It can be seen from a great distance not only on account of its lofty position but also because of its colour . The church is built in the local reddish tufa which with time has become brownish in tone, contrasting it with the dull green background of the mountain forest lying behind it.
The complex comprises the church, a gavit', living accomodation and service quarters and a two-storey school erected in the 19th century. In the centre of a walled quadrangular-shaped area, the most important buildings - the church and the gavit' - stand free, while the others are positioned against the north and east walls. The site is on a slight slope from north-west to south-east and, for this reason, the walls act as earthwork bastions.